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Member Voices: Doris Marshall, UMW President

February 19, 2020
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We love to hear directly from our members on how church life and involvement is impacting them. This week, Doris Marshall, our new local United Methodist Women (UMW) president, talks about the presence of UMW at FirstChurch and how this new leadership team hopes to guide the organization into the future. Email Doris to get connected with UMW.

FirstChurch UMW is a local part of our national organization. We are capably led by our General Secretary, Harriett Jane Olsen, who in her response to reports of the separation protocol to be introduced at General Conference 2020, wrote:

“Along with you, we know that there is urgent work for United Methodist Women to take on—supporting women, children and youth and marginalized persons and advocating for policies that are more just.  Our commitment is to be a place where all the women who affirm the Purpose and want to work together in mission can belong.”

Perhaps more now than ever, the work and dedication of UMW is needed as we rethink what Methodism looks like in the 21st century.

Both on the national level and here at FirstChurch, UMW is a 150-year-old organization that remains “relevant in the present”.  Here, women can support and minister to other women, children and youth. We are strong, we are bold, and we take on the issues of those who feel neither strong or bold. Our Circles are like family groups who support each individual as only women unified by one Spirit can. We are open and inviting to all women who desire a place of spiritual growth, renewal and learning.

We’re moving into this new decade proud of what we’ve accomplished, but aware that we still have challenges to overcome. Knowing that our UMW was not a diverse group, we reached out to our sisters of other UMCs to form relationships that would allow for racial conversations and understanding. St. Paul and Warren UMC UMWs were eager to partner in that way, and we’ve now joined together for Women’s Retreats and Room in the Inn. These activities have led to close relationships and we’re excited to see how that continues to grow.

Yet, we know that to keep our organization viable, we need to find a way of reaching our younger generation of women. The efforts that we have made in the past worked at the outset, but were not sustainable – it’s clear younger women do not want the UMW of their mothers. So we are on a quest to learn what does work for younger generations – it is high on our list of priorities for the 2020 decade!

For this year, our primary work is to continue the momentum of our past and add innovative web-based opportunities for communication and collaboration. We are focusing on a tangible UMW organizational structure that will guide us to specific missional projects at the local, state, national and international levels. We want to provide service, advocacy and educational opportunities for all 160+ members of our UMW Unit at FirstChurch. We believe every UMW member/potential member can be active in a way that will fit their ‘age and stage’ of life.

I want us to focus on ways we can keep UMW relevant in the present and be positioned to take on the priorities and opportunities of the future. Individually and as an organization led by women, we speak out, we stand up and we lead mission initiatives that make a difference in the reach of our local church. Just as FirstChurch is an active part of our UMC Metro District and our Conference, so is our UMW organization. There is strength in numbers and our plans for the future include greater collaboration with other UMW units and UMCs to achieve greater impacts in areas of poverty, social justice and equity. We strive to be like Jesus as we go out into the world spreading God’s Love and Light.


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